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Pro-Life Group Mobilizes For Dewhurst, Saying Patrick Doesn't Work Well With Others

Shelley Kofler
Kyleen Wright of Texans for Life says she'll urge pro-life supporters to vote for Dewhurst.

After finishing 13 points behind Texas Sen. Dan Patrick in the Republican primary, incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told Republican women in Arlington on Thursday he may need to introduce himself to voters again, even though he’s held statewide office for 15 years.

Dewhurst reminded his audience he’s a businessman, a U.S. Air Force veteran and former CIA officer who sometimes gets results in a quiet way.

“I am used to sitting down and working out a solution.  A lot of people talk. A lot of people give speeches.  A lot of people shout.  I’m not a shouter. You don’t shout if you’re in the CIA,” he said, drawing laughter.

In these final weeks before the May 27 runoff election, Dewhurst’s ability to work with others and to get things done is a distinction he’s drawing between himself and Patrick, an outspoken radio talk show host.

“Can Dan Patrick create the relationships and move forward?  The answer is categorically no,” Dewhurst said in an interview with KERA. 

“He’s proved over and over again that he cannot do that. The members (of the legislature) don’t have the trust in him for a variety of reasons,” he said.

One of the examples Dewhurst cited was Patrick’s handling of legislation in 2011 that requires physicians to provide a sonogram before performing an abortion.

Dewhurst claims Patrick, the bill’s senate sponsor, was willing to let a weaker version pass.

“He was just simply trying to get it passed and showboat because of the name -- the sonogram bill.  And it didn’t have the meat,” Dewhurst said.

Kyleen Wright, president of the pro-life Texans for Life Coalition, says Patrick jeopardized the sonogram bill, which is now law.  She says that’s one of the reasons most of the big pro-life organizations, including hers, have endorsed Dewhurst instead of Patrick.

“He (Patrick) didn’t work well with members of the lobby and it appeared that he also did not work well with other members (in the legislature) and didn’t have the relationships and that’s crucial for getting things done,” Wright said. 

“Even if you’re the lieutenant governor you’re not a king. You are the president of the Senate and dependent on these relationships and I don’t believe he has them,” Wright said.

Wright says pro-life groups plan to mobilize their voters for Dewhurst, something that apparently didn’t happen in the primary.  

In response to comments by Dewhurst and Wright, Patrick’s campaign said the following:

Dan Patrick is a pro-life champion who passed landmark legislation like the sonogram bill with bipartisan support. As chairman of the Senate Education committee, Dan passed major education reform bills related to school choice, charter schools and graduation requirements with bipartisan and even unanimous support. That is why he led Dewhurst by 14 percent on primary night and has the support of pro-life conservative voters from across the state.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.